Pictured in the front row (left to right) are Director of UNESCO Cluster Office for the Caribbean, Kwame Boafa; Chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO and of Barbados??? National Commission for UNESCO, Alissandra Cummins; Director General of UNESCO, Irina Bokova; Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Cecelia Humphrey and ??Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones. In the background are Principal of George Lamming Primary School, Philip Roach and Senior Education Officer (Planning, Research and International Relations), Dr. Roderick Rudder. The officials toured the George Lamming Primary School following the meeting at the Ministry. (AVA)

Barbados has been urged by Director General of the United Nations Educational Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Irina Bokova to continue to "present candidates" to work within that international body.

This call was made recently as she met with Minister of Education and Human Resource Development, Ronald Jones and a team of officials at his office at the Elsie Payne Complex.

Acknowledging her satisfaction with the Inscription Ceremony for Historic Bridgetown and its Garrison, she expressed pleasure at the level of involvement of Barbadians in their own country and the leadership exemplified in all spheres.

Chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO and of Barbados’ National Commission for UNESCO, Alissandra Cummins , who was present at the meeting, was commended for her dedication to the organisation, located in Paris, and Ms. Bokova said: "We are proud of her leadership and dedication and her being elected to that body. It was not just a gift. I think it was something that Barbados deserved after so many years of work and contribution to UNESCO."

Ms. Bokova therefore urged the Ministry of Education and others like the Coastal Zone Management Unit to "present candidates," noting that there should be a critical mass of candidates for different positions in different places. She said: "I am very much in favour of geographical distribution and in effect earlier this year for the Young Professionals Programme, for the first time we had some representatives from other Caribbean countries which had never been presented to UNESCO, so I think we are much more diversified.

"So please present candidates. Many countries are doing that… And, I would like to have not only from big countries like Japan, Korea or China, which are already with us. I really would like to have [candidates] from small countries. I know maybe it’s a burden to your budget but if your person qualifies… it’s a very good way of cooperating and exchange."??????

The Director General said too, that there were other possible options open to Government in "these times of financial constraints" once they considered an area important. She explained that an individual could be dispatched to work on a temporary basis at UNESCO.

"A government official of Barbados staying with us for a year, I think is very rewarding. He or she would qualify then go back to their respective Ministry and in the meantime our (UNESCO’s) situation would improve, I hope," Ms. Bokova stressed.

Minister Jones, in welcoming the comments, said Barbados was going through some transformation which called for the island to address "more qualitative advancements of the education system".??

He said: "Such improvements would be in teacher training for the delivery of education to students and under our Human Resource Development Strategy, laid in Parliament [also about] how we bring resources to bear on equipping and re-equipping all of our people. It is not only from three years old to 16, but we are also looking at life-long learning situations; second chance opportunities for those who, at the early stage of primary and secondary education, somehow did not benefit, and giving them a chance to be citizens who can make a contribution, within their own optimum strengths; [and] within their own resources, to impact on this country."

As he outlined the country’s proud record to the UNESCO official, Mr. Jones added that the island was "on a positive path for educational delivery" and UNESCO as well as other countries would hear more about these achievements in the future.

He explained that Barbados was one of the first countries within the English Caribbean which had "moved ahead since 1999 to integrating technology into the delivery of education – into the pedagogue of education" and told Ms. Bokova that since 1962, the country had moved towards universal free education at both primary and secondary levels.

Minister Jones said:?? "These are things we are proud of – fifty years of universal free education – which we are going to celebrate this year with some activities in September, October and November. [We will] showcase what we have achieved – education as a vehicle and momentum for national development.

"To some extent, the way we have crafted what we do is centred around human development using all the available talents… to ensure that, first persons are satisfied, that they self-actualize and then national development [is attained]."

??The meeting was also attended by Permanent Secretary in the Ministry of Education, Cecelia Humphrey; Chief Education Officer, Laurie King; Senior Education Officer (Planning, Research and International Relations), Dr. Roderick Rudder; Deputy Director of the Coastal Zone Management Unit, Dr. Lorna Inniss; former Director of the Culture of Peace Programme (UNESCO), Leslie Atherley, and Chairman of the Executive Board of UNESCO of Barbados’ National Commission for UNESCO, Alissandra Cummins.


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